NEWPORT BEACH (AP) — Authorities on Friday removed thousands of marijuana plants found growing in an Orange County wilderness park not far from a high school and a tract of pricey homes.
Investigators were sent to pull up between 2,500 and 4,000 plants spotted several weeks ago in the Muddy Canyon area of the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, county sheriff’s Lt. Jeff Hallock told the Orange County Register.
A helicopter hauled away the plants, which had an estimated street value of about $5 million, from the area just outside the city limits of wealthy Newport Beach.
The pot farm operators haven’t been found, and the plants will be held as evidence.
The plants were in a rugged area of the park, which includes scenic views and rugged coastal canyons of scrub, willow, oak and sycamore.
The plants were in an area a few hundred feet south of a private high school and not far from a toll road and a gated Newport Beach community.
More than 6,000 marijuana plants were found in July 2007 in two pot farms in the Aliso and Wood Canyons Regional Park. The plants were located near homes and an irrigation system tapped into the sprinkler system for the homeowners association, the Register said.
The largest outdoor marijuana farm discovered in the county had 20,000 pot plants. It was found in September 2006 in Mission Viejo.